Delivery via drone is a sort of dream in India. While some e-commerce companies in the US and China have been using drones to deliver orders, India has just started testing the viability of drones in delivering important healthcare amenities, agriculture, and weather monitoring activities among others.
Recently, a district hospital in Uttarakhand had used a drone that traveled 36 kms for delivering blood samples. Moving a step ahead in the process to use drones for commercial purposes, Zomato has successfully tested its maiden drone delivery plan.
According to a company statement, the test was conducted using a hybrid drone, with a fusion of rotary wing and fixed wings on a single drone. It was successfully and seamlessly able to cover a distance of 5 kms, in about 10 minutes, with a peak speed of 80 kmph, carrying a payload of 5 kgs.
Seven months ago, Zomato acquired TechEagle with an aspiration to use drone tech for food delivery.
“We have been working towards building sustainable and safe delivery technology and with our first successful test, food delivery by drones is no longer just a pipe dream,” said Deepinder Goyal, Co-Founder and CEO Zomato.
In the first iteration of food delivery via drones by Zomato, drones will pick up the food package from a restaurant hub (a dispatch station around a cluster of restaurants), and drop the package at a customer hub (a landing station close to dense communities), and comes back to the dispatch site.
Goyal also emphasised that there are regulatory hurdles in flying drones, however, the government’s concerns need to be looked at from various (valid) points of view.
The major state concerns include drone registration and prior permissions from DGCA for procuring unique identification numbers (UIN). The DGCA has defined five different categories of drones ie Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams, Micro: From 250 grams to 2 kg, Small: From 2kg to 25 kg, Medium: From 25 kg to 150 kg and Large: Greater than 150 kg.
As per the new drone policy, Nano drones that weigh less than 250 grams will not need to be registered. Last December, flying drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) was legalised by the government. It also set up an online portal called ‘Digital Sky’ for drone registration.
Other concerns that also needed to be taken care of in this regard are safe delivery of food in proper condition, avoiding clashes between drones, food stealth, or damage to the properties by external factors. Even though the initial stages of drone delivery are planned to be conducted under remote supervision, only data will not help the company in doing away with this supervision.